View Full Version : Dovetails

06-22-2014, 10:59 AM
Hi guys.
Some of you may know me from CNC Zone, or the Vectric forums.

For over a year now, I've been working on a sort of conversational CAM program to generate g-code for woodworking joints. I started with dovetails, as I've seen countless requests over the years for an easy method to do them on a CNC router.


What I've come up with allows you to create an unlimited variety of both half blind and full through dovetails. Manual jigs typically will limit the depth of cut, as it's dependent on the spacing of the joints. With software, you can use any depth you want, and the spacing will be adjusted to match the depth. You can also do variable spacing, at any depth you like. (Up to the length of the dovetail bit.

A jig or fixture to hold your stock vertically IS REQUIRED.
The software outputs both Mach3 compatible g-code as well as native .sbp files, but I haven't tested the Shopbot code, as I don't have a Shopbot, and have been busy writing code.

I plan on releasing it with dovetails only in the next few months, and plan on adding several styles of box joints, as well as mortise and tenons over the winter.

Just looking to find out if there's any interest in the Shopbot community.

Mods, please move or delete if this doesn't belong here.

06-22-2014, 11:54 AM
Gerry, I haven't gotten into dovetails beyond reading because we have Desktops with 4" of Z and haven't needed them yet. Have seen that Buddy's have an issue because of moving Y axis(May have been work arounds).
I did remember this thread about Gary's method but haven't checked it out. Also including G's Tailmaker home just for kicks and giggles.
I'm sure others will chime in.
Take a a look at the fingerbox thread too. It's neat.



06-22-2014, 12:30 PM
Thanks. I'm well aware of G's work, and just about every other dovetail option that's out there. What he's done is outstanding.

But, imo, ;) there's nothing like my software available anywhere. You can program just about any joint in a minute or two, and you can cut complete half blind joints in about 30 seconds.

06-22-2014, 12:32 PM
Just looking to find out if there's any interest in the Shopbot community.

Definitely, video was very interesting, look forward to seeing and trying this out.

06-22-2014, 05:48 PM
I'm interested I see as a cabinet shop is just as fast with a cnc then a dedicated dovetail machine plus it free money for other things

But there is no program that I know of ?

06-22-2014, 09:22 PM
Looks like you are definitely on the right track. You will need to make the interface as easy to navigate as possible for some (like me) who see some of these programs and when it gets complicated our eyes glaze over. :eek:
good work so far, and i would be interested when complete.:D

06-22-2014, 10:20 PM
It will have a very thorough manual, and I'll also have several tutorial videos.

Unfortunately, for every option you give the user, complexity goes up another level.

Fortunately, imo, it's really quite simple.
You just specify the size of your boards, height of the dovetails, and width of the pins and tails. There are a few other options, but the preview should make them somewhat self explanatory. That's it. For your typical half blind dovetail, enter the stock size, and tool information, and you're ready to start cutting.

I do realize that dovetails can be rather complicated, and some people will really struggle with it. Hopefully my documentation will be good enough to overcome any difficulties.

06-22-2014, 11:13 PM
I'd be interested in taking a look.

06-23-2014, 07:15 AM
Have you done any timing studies?
How long would it take to make one drawer?

I've been using Gary's routine, that I modified a little, for a long time and once the parts are all cut it takes less then 2 minutes to dovetail and assemble a drawer.

I'm always looking for a faster way.

06-23-2014, 07:57 AM
My homebuilt machine isn't rigid enough to cut in one pass, so I always use roughing passes on my test cuts, which adds a lot of time.

Regular half blind "production" type dovetails would be the fastest. Actual cutting time would probably be similar to Gary's routine. The toolpaths from my software for this type of dovetail are very similar to what I see in Gary's video on YouTube. Since you're cutting both the pins and tails in one pass, there's really nothing you can do to speed up the cut time.

Increasing tail width, or variable spacing would require multiple passes, and would take more time.

The real benefit I'm offering is the ability to very quickly program many different types of joints. Different board thickness, different tools, different cut depths, custom spacing,.....
For regular half blind dovetails, just enter the tool info, and the board width and thickness, and you're ready to go. Most other types can be programmed in as little as 1-3 minutes.

06-24-2014, 04:32 AM
When watching your video i wondered why you were taking such light cuts and thought that could definitely be sped up. Since you said your machine isn't that sturdy, those of us with larger machines would like to be able to do this in one or two passes. As long as that's possible, i'm interested..:D

06-24-2014, 05:06 AM
You can do them in one pass, or 100 passes. All up to the user.

09-12-2014, 03:24 PM
Gerry - Any updates on your progress?

09-12-2014, 07:59 PM
I've been mostly working on getting my business stuff lined up so I can release it.
I've been working on the manual and website, and making samples for website photos. I hope to get some tutorial videos done this weekend.
I hope to have a website up and running within the next month.

Here's a sample in African Mahogany.

09-18-2014, 02:16 AM
looks great gerry.......let us know when you get it ready to go:D

09-28-2014, 07:54 AM
Software is now available.


09-28-2014, 09:11 AM
I just skimmed thru it but it looks pretty good. The tutorials look simple enough and the interface looks fairly easy to navigate. :D

09-28-2014, 10:24 AM
It's very easy to use.

If your machine has a jig or fixture mounted, you can go from idea to finished joint in 10 minutes.

I'll be adding more tutorials.
The manual is still a work in progress, but it has a lot of images that explain quite a few things.

09-28-2014, 05:09 PM
Are the new joints going to be included in your $80 release or will they be extra? What about changes or upgrades to existing?

09-28-2014, 05:20 PM
All upgrades and updates to version 1, including new joints, will be free.

Joseph clements
09-29-2014, 10:30 AM
Has anyone else tried this? I keep getting an error, I tried to set up the configuration for shopbot, maybe I should try reading the owners manual

09-29-2014, 12:42 PM
I replied to your email. I think the error is that your feedrate is set too high.

09-29-2014, 12:53 PM
For some reason the email I sent you was blocked (message not allowed for policy reasons.)

Joseph clements
09-29-2014, 01:51 PM
Looks like 10 is the max on feedrate, when I set it to 10 it works,
Feed at 10 plung rate at 75. Is that inches a munit

Joseph clements
09-29-2014, 02:47 PM
Thanks for the help, I am a little new to all this , so for I only use aspire.
I look forward to making lots of dovetails

09-30-2014, 10:41 AM
I've added the ability to specify feedrate in units/minute, and output the code in units/second.

This was the issue mentioned in the previous posts.

09-30-2014, 07:02 PM
Gerry I just sent you a paypal...

09-30-2014, 08:49 PM
I got some new bits to play with. I used a 3/16" upcut for the pins, and a 7/16 8 for the tails. Came out absolutely perfect.

10-01-2014, 09:50 AM
:)Well, you have me convinced. I'll be sending some moola your way as soon as i get home from work.

10-04-2014, 01:04 PM
I bought it but haven't had the time to even open it and go thru any info. So let me ask, has anybody made any dovetails with it yet? Any pictures you can post?
Scott? you seem to be the moist ambitious among most of us...have you? I don't recall Scott do you have a desktop? If so, does it have the ability to cut something over the edge? (like where you would have to mount a vertical vise):confused:

10-04-2014, 01:38 PM
Nope Jack, Desktop frame extends(about)3" beyond extrusions and extrusion goes beyon cutting area. Not sure if doable even if you removed an extrusion because the Y-screw is underneath(Bob D, Brady?).
Am rethinking TailMaker now that I have more Z though.
Dissecting an inlay, got to run.
Sorry no help.

10-04-2014, 03:14 PM
http://www.talkshopbot.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=20549&d=1397089480 The DT has some room on the left side that goes through (about 10") You need to remove aluminum extrusion to do this ,, in the middle you have the Y lead screw and right side there is wires , Hope this helps


10-04-2014, 06:39 PM
So let me ask, has anybody made any dovetails with it yet? Any pictures you can post?

Someone just posted a pic on my user forum of a double dovetail (Incra type) they did today.

There's a little bit of a learning curve, and the issue of fabricating a mounting fixture, so I suspect that it might be a little bit before more pictures appear.

10-04-2014, 10:32 PM
Gerry I can't seem to login i've tried a couple different emails/password combos because naturally i didn't think to write it down. I had it send me a new password to try it and that didn't work either....:confused:

I wanted to ask Johnb (the poster) if he had any pictures of his vertical holddown vise? Those dovetails looked great!

Joseph clements
10-21-2014, 10:10 AM
Has anyone set this up on a shopbot yet? If so I could use some tips on
The configuration option in software. And a jig for shopbot table I have a 4x8

10-21-2014, 10:32 AM
You mainly just want to check the shopbot .sbp option, and the "Start Spindle" and "M2 Yes/No (ShopBot End)" boxes. These should get you the proper code to run on a ShopBot. And you also probably want to check "Include Tool and Material Comments".

The General Settings on the right are more specific to your setup. If you are mounting your boards on the end of the table, then you want to check the Y axis button. If you have a jig that holds two boards, the "Machine Width" is the distance between the outside edges of the two boards.

I've never used a Shopbot, but I can try to answer any specific questions you might have.

02-11-2015, 11:31 PM
In addition to both half blind and through dovetails, JointCAM can now create code for both standard box joints, and a rounded box joint. An unlimited amount of variations are possible with each joint. The variable width examples shown are created automatically, and only take a few seconds to create.

02-12-2015, 09:44 PM
Is that a upgrade or addon or a newer version we need to download?:confused:

02-12-2015, 09:59 PM
It's a new updated version that you can download.

02-15-2015, 10:54 AM
I know a few of you have had issues with the JointCAM interface, due to the use of large font settings in Windows.
I've uploaded a new test version that now scales all of the controls to the window size, allowing you to make the window bigger to fit everything. I've only changed the Config and round box joint sections, but I'd appreciate any feedback on it.
I'll be moving forward on redesigning the entire interface. The scaling issue will only become more common as more people move to higher resolution displays, which often require larger font sizes to make text legible.